Clipped From Lansing State Journal
Adoption: Costs increasing for Continued From 1 on the country. Higher airline fares, and adoption fees and services are a few reasons the cost of international adoptions have increased. To offset expenses, some are taking advantage of federal and state tax breaks. "The foreign countries have really added a lot onto their fees on their end as well," Yates said. The most costly item for parents is travel to their child's country. Many countries require the parents to stay there for a week or two, and Russia requires the parents to visit twice. But many families choose the international route because it sometimes is faster, especially if the family wants an infant Adopting an infant in the United States generally takes a year. Adopting abroad frequently takes a year to several years, depending on the country. "A lot of families are looking for a healthy infant as their first option," Yates said. "There are very few healthy infants here in the U.S." who are put up for adoption. The urgency to become a parent soon overrides the costs, said Nancy Cannon of Adoption Associates in Lansing. "They come to adoption and feel that at least at the end they'll have a baby for sure," she said. That was the case for the Barclay family of Lansing. Suzanne Elms-Barclay and her husband, Richard, adopted their sons, Peter, 18, and David, 15, from Korea when they were infants. Then, in 1984 and 1987, the adoptions cost about $5,000 each. The family gave up things such as new cars and a bigger house to afford the adoptions. "We just had it be our highest priority," Suzanne Elms-Barclay said. If the Barclays were adopting today, some of the cost could be recouped through a $10,000 federal tax credit. The credit, which was doubled to that amount in 2001, is for parents who adopt any child, domestically or from "A lot of families are looking for a healthy infant as their hrst option. There are very few healthy infants here in the f.S." who are put up for adoption. Kathy Yates Adoption Resource Center in Jackson another country. The credit covers expenses, such as fees, paperwork and travel, up to $10,000. The exception is parents who adopt special-needs children they can get the $10,000 regardless of how much they spend. In 2001, Michigan started offering parents a $1,200 tax credit for adoption expenses but only after they exceed the federal limit. The tax credits would have helped Tim and Gretchen Tier-ney of Grand Rapids, who adopted their son, Nicholas, 12, from India in 1991, and their daughter, Ellie, 6, from Korea in 1996. "It's pretty much a cash business," Tim Tierney said. The adoptions cost $8,000 and $14,000, respectively. That's why he pushed his employer, Fifth Third Bank, to start a loan program for adoptive parents a first of its kind in Michigan. The bank offers a home equity loan for up to 100 percent of the home's value over as many as 20 years with a half-point discount on the interest rate. "(Adoption) is already a stressful event as it is," Tierney said. "We just wanted to let people know that there's another option." So far, 20 people have applied for the loans since the program started in July. There's other help for adoptive parents. At least one airline has found its way into the adoption market, looking to add passengers and families fill international flights. Northwest Airlines, the main carrier out of Lansing's Capital City Airport, offers adoptive parents 50 percent to 65 percent off round-trip fares to foreign countries. That would save a lot on a ticket from say Detroit to Seoul, South Korea, which ranges from $950 to $1,800. The airline also waives penalty fees for cancellations and changes. Many parents fly to Korea, China and Russia to pick up their kids, said Mary Beth Schubert, a Northwest spokeswoman. "We have recognized that international adoptions can be costly," she said. "Plus it worked out well for us since we have a lot of flights to that area of the world." And while parents appreciate the financial assistance, some insist it's not about money. -"Adoption is a very loving act," Suzanne Elms-Barclay said. "Money was a secondary thing." Contact Susan Stock at 377-1015 or sstocklsj.com.